TODAY’S GAME 5: The Astros will try to stave off elimination again today in Game 5 of the ALCS at Petco Park against the Rays…Houston is trying to become
just the second team in MLB history to rally back from a 3-0 deficit in a seven-game series…the only other team to do so were the 2004 Red Sox, who came back to beat the Yankees in a thrilling ALCS.
GARCIA GETS THE NOD: The Astros will start rookie RHP Luis Garcia today in what will be his first career postseason appearance…Garcia impressed in
his first five MLB appearances in 2020, all coming in September, including a 5.0-inning scoreless start on Sept. 9 at OAK, in which he allowed just one hit…prior to this season, Garcia had not appeared in a game above Class A, where he spent all of 2019…he did post monster numbers at the level, compiling 168 strikeouts in 108.2 innings and a .172 opponent batting average.
ROOKIE HURLERS: The Astros matched the Marlins by using an Major League-high 15 rookie pitchers in 2020…they have nine rookie pitchers on
their ALCS roster and have used six rookies so far this postseason, who have combined for a solid 2.97 ERA (12ER/36.1IP) in 23 appearances (three starts)…RHP Cristian Javier has led this group, going 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA (1ER/8.1IP) in four appearances.
STARTING STRONG: RHP Luis Garcia has big shoes to fill, following the four other Astros starters this series, which have combined for a 2.25 ERA (6ER/24IP)…they’ve posted 30 strikeouts in 24.0 IP.
POSTSEASON EXPERIENCE: This is the Astros 14th appearance in the postseason in club history in what is the 59th year of the franchise that began in
1962…this group of Astros has won a postseason series in four straight seasons (2017-20), leading all MLB teams in postseason games (54) and wins (31) in
that time frame…in both categories, the Astros top the Dodgers (44g, 26 wins) and Yankees (34g, 18 wins).
LCS HISTORY: This marks the Astros fourth straight trip to the ALCS and their eighth appearance overall in an LCS (1980, 1986, 2004-05, 2017-20)…they are the third team in AL history and the fifth team in MLB history to advance to four straight LCS (since 1969)…the other clubs to do so: the Cardinals (2011-14), Yankees (1998-2001), Braves (1991-99) and A’s (1971-75).
GAME 4 WIN: The Astros played a clean ballgame last night, downing the Rays 4-3 to stay alive in the ALCS…RHP Zack Greinke was masterful, tossing
6.0 innings and allowing two runs, both coming on a homer, with seven strikeouts…he was backed by 2B Jose Altuve (2×4, 2RBI), who homered in the 1st
inning for the third time this series, and CF George Springer, who went 3×4, including a go-ahead homer.
TAG TEAMS: Per Elias, last night marked the fourth time for 2B Jose Altuve and OF George Springer to homer in the same postseason game…the only pair
of teammates in MLB history to do it more often is another Astros duo, Springer and SS Carlos Correa, who have turned the trick seven times.

ON THE CUSP—Today the Rays have a second opportunity to advance
to the World Series, after their 4-3 loss in Game 4…in postseason history,
teams leading 3-0 in a best-of-seven have gone on to win the series 37 of
38 times (97.4 pct.)…the only team to come back from a 3-0 deficit was the
2004 Red Sox, against the Yankees in the AL Championship Series…only
eight of the previous 38 series were extended to a Game 5, and no team
has taken the series to 6 games since the Red Sox completed the comeback
against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
– The Rays are a win away from their second AL pennant (2008),
but the only current Rays player or uniformed personnel who witnessed them winning it in 2008 from field level (Game 7, at Tropicana Field) was Kevin Cash, who was a Red Sox catcher at the time.
– The Rays have won six of their last eight postseason games since
losing Game 1 to the Yankees…the Rays are 24-23 all-time in the
postseason, 8-3 in 2020 and 10-4 since Game 3 of the 2019 ALDS…
including the end of the regular season, they are 17-5 since Sep 17.
– The Rays haven’t lost back-to-back games this postseason…the last
time in the regular season was Sep 7-10 at WAS, vs. BOS (0-3).
Ê Combining regular season and postseason, the Rays have only lost
once in their last 18 series since Aug 4, going 13-1-4 in series play.
– Happy 49th Birthday to Rays hitting coach Chad Mottola.
CLOSE SHAVES—Between the regular season and postseason, 39 of the
club’s 71 games (54.9 pct.) have been decided by 2 runs (or fewer)…the
Rays are 28-11 (.718) in them, going 5-1 in the postseason in addition to a
majors-best 23-10 (.697) in the regular season…the Rays are 16-6 (.727) in
1-run games, including 2-1 this postseason and 15-4 (.789) since Aug 7.
– Combining regular season and postseason, the Rays have a major league-record 13 different pitchers with a save and are 35-1, 32-0
and 39-0 when leading after 6, 7 and 8 innings, respectively.
– Since July 28, 2019, the Rays have won 62 straight games when
leading after 7 innings, the longest active streak in the majors.
– The Rays have three comeback wins this postseason after an A-Lmost 20 come-from-behind wins during the regular season.
PITCHING PROPERLY—The Rays have allowed 10 runs in their last 5
games…last night the Rays snapped a club-record streak of allowing 2
runs (or fewer) in four consecutive postseason games…the Rays have allowed 2 runs (or fewer) in six of 11 postseason games (54.5 pct.), after doing
that in 21 of 60 games (35.0 pct.) during the regular season…the Rays have
a 3.15 ERA (97-IP, 34-ER) in the postseason, including a 3.48 ERA (51.2-IP,
20-ER) from their starters and a 2.78 ERA (45.1-IP, 14-ER) from relievers.
– Last night both Tyler Glasnow and Zack Greinke went 6 IP, only
the third time this postseason both starters went 6 IP (or more)…
the two previous instances came in NL Wild Card Series; the last
time in the AL was Game 1 of the 2019 ALCS (Tanaka vs. Greinke).
– The Rays have held the Astros to 9 runs and 6 HR (five solo) this
series, after the Astros scored 33 runs and hit 12 HR in the Division
Series (4 games vs. Oakland)…similarly, the Rays held the Yankees
to 24 runs and 10 HR in the 5-game Division Series, after the Yankees scored 22 runs and hit 7 HR in their Wild Card sweep at CLE.
– Opponents are batting .176 (12-for-68) against Rays pitching with
RISP this postseason…the Rays have held the Astros to .192 (5-for26) with RISP—and only one of these 5 hits has resulted in a run.
– The Rays bullpen has stranded all 21 IR this postseason…according
to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the longest streak of inherited
runners stranded to start a postseason, passing the 2006 Cardinals
(17)…in the last 8 games (beginning with Game 2 of the ALDS vs.
NYY), the Rays bullpen has pitched to a 2.06 ERA (35-IP, 8-ER).
PITCHING PLANS—Today’s game will be started by RH John Curtiss, his
fourth career start…he went 1.1, 1.1 and 0.2 IP in his first 3 starts, yielding
a combined 2 runs (1 ER) in 3.1 IP (Aug 20 at NYY, Sep 15 vs. WAS, Sept.
26 vs. PHI)…this is the third time in club postseason history the Rays are
using an opener to start, following RH Ryan Thompson in Game 4 of the
2020 ALDS at NYY (5-1 loss) and RH Diego Castillo in Game 4 of the 2019
ALDS vs. HOU (4-1 win)…the Rays used an opener seven times in the regular season and went 6-1 when doing so after going 26-17 (.605) in 2019.
– Including postseason, since the debut of the opener on May 19, 2018, the
Rays have used one 107 times and are 65-42 (.607) in those games.
POWER BALL—69.6 pct. (32 of 46) of the Rays runs this postseason have
come on home runs, compared to 41.5 pct. (120 of 289) during the regular season…the Rays have hit 18 HR this postseason, but only four in the
League Championship Series after hitting 11 in the Division Series.

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